Celebrating Bay Point Plant Based Pilot Study

By Antonia Demas, Ph.D.

Introduction & Background

In 2001, I was hired as a consultant to teach Food is Elementary to students and staff at the Bay Point School for Boys in Miami, Florida. Teens in trouble with the law were sent to Bay Point by the courts as an alternative to incarceration. There were two different campus sites, one in north Miami and the other in south Miami. At the time, there were approximately 200 students at thi residential school (the school is now closed). The school was highly regimented, similar to a military school, and offered a variety of curricular choices to the students. These students were heavily supervised and they were monitored 24/7. At night they had to turn in their shoes because no one dared escape into the tropical South Florida night barefoot with the brambles, snakes, and insects. All meals were eaten on campus and I was hired to advise the school cooks on making the menu healthier. The cooks attended Food is Elementary classes alongside the students who took the class as an elective with a special focus on job skills. The idea was to prepare students to get a job in the food industry to reduce the chance of becoming a repeat offender.

The collaboration with Bay Point School for Boys was initiated by Joan Smith, a Food Studies Institute board member who was friends with the Bay Point School founder Mary Louise Cole. Joan thought that I would be a good match to work with the school and arrangements were made for me to tour the facility, interview the staff and students, and review the meals. I asked students what they thought of the menu and their responses were primarily negative. The Bay Point school meals were repetitive and did not contain any whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, or salads. The only beverage served was milk and most students were lactose intolerance. There were no whole grains available. I also asked students if they would like to learn how to cook healthier meals and about how food affects their minds and bodies. Student response was favorable.

Food is Elementary was offered as an elective class for students and the school cooks joined the lessons in the cafeteria. Students and staff enjoyed the lessons which engaged their senses and were hands-on. They were introduced to many foods that they had not heard of or eaten before. Although most of the students grew up in a citrus growing region, they had never tasted fresh grapefruit. Many staff members had serious food-related health problems; the head cook had diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. He was eager to participate in Food is Elementary classes, he encouraged the students, and he was willing to order whole foods to be put on the menu. I found the staff and students delightful to work with and eager to learn.

I gained permission to take students on a series of field trips. We visited an organic farm, where students were able to harvest fresh fruit, herbs, and veggies for the first time while learning about soil and compost. Another trip was to a Wild Oats health food store where they sampled a variety of whole foods. We also went to Johnson & Wales in North Miami, a hospitality college which has a culinary school (but has closed in the last few years). The students were able to see how a professional kitchen operates and see a college-level culinary arts program in action, which was part of their job training education.

Plant Based Pilot Study

The idea for a pilot study was sparked when it was getting close to the end of the spring semester. Because the students and staff had responded so enthusiastically to what they were learning about in Food is Elementary classes, I suggested conducting a pilot study for students who voluntarily chose to adopt a plant-based diet for three weeks. The students in the proposed study would prepare all of their own meals and work together to develop new plant-based recipes. They would keep a journal and write honestly about any changes in their mental, emotional, and physical state. Miami Children’s Hospital volunteered to do blood work pre and post on participants along with other health measurements so we could document health results of the study. The school presented a rare opportunity to do a nutrition study in a controlled environment because the only food students had access to was prepared on site. There were no vending machines on campus and students did not have any cash.

The pilot study was approved, and we presented the idea to the students. We explained the purpose of the study, how it would work, what they would do, and why they would have to sign permission and give informed consent to participate in the study on a voluntary basis. They would have to agree to eat a plant-based diet for three weeks and to keep a journal to document changes in how they felt in mind and body. They understood that honesty was essential for scientific integrity, and that it was okay if they went off a plant-based diet or ate junk food, but that they needed to include this in their journal.

Nineteen 19 students signed up. The boys designed and ate a plant-based menu for all meals and snacks which they prepared with their peers in the study. They cooked all of their meals on a rotation schedule. They were encouraged to be creative with recipe development. Their artistry in the kitchen and using colors in their presentations blossomed. They wrote in their journals about any changes they were experiencing (good or bad).

At first the other students who were not part of the study teased the study participants and told them – ‘you are going to get weak like a girl’ among other negative comments. They responded by saying things such as, “did you notice my performance on the football field?” (which improved). They also compared the way the food looked – the traditional menu had no color other than primarily brown while the plant-based meals were vibrant with colorful foods, many of the recipes created by the study participants which they took pride in creating.

Student Journals from the 3-Week Plant-Based Pilot Study 

All of the students who volunteered in the study kept journals which they agreed to share with interested parties. I am posting them after obtaining signed permission from students. Read through the journal entries below to hear how the students felt while participating in this pilot study. Most of the students were reluctant but curious at first. I find their insights to be inspirational and at times profound. Please note, the journals are in their own words, spelling and grammar has not been corrected. Permission has been granted to post.

South Campus

5/9 Today I’m starting a new experiment.  I am very skeptical about this experiment.  I am going to be a vegan vegetarian for one month.  I think this is not going to affect my body in any way.  I hope I survive through this experiment.  I really hope the food don’t be nasty.  I really am skeptical about this.

5/12 Today I woke up feeling much better than yesterday.  It is like I am getting more and more energy each day.  I have been noticing also that I am now using the restroom more often now than when I was a meat eater.  I am still skeptical about this.

5/13 This day I am really feeling many changes.  Sometimes when I want to be mad, I just be calm.  My body is also feeling like it is a big battery that is slowly recharging.

5/14 Today I woke up with a wide sum of energy. Also, I would like to add that I feel that I have slept much better.  This is the best sleep I had since I’ve been here.  I also noticed that I am using the restroom a whole lot now.  I don’t know what’s going on with my digestive system.  The food we’re eating is much better.  I think I can do this for one month.

5/15 Today I woke up feeling very energized.  On the football field I feel like I’m unstoppable.  My body feels like it is adjusting very well to this experiment. I am starting to feel like this diet is cleaning my body.  Today I had energy to last me the whole day.  Usually, I be tired and weary.  Now I feel just energized.

5/16 Today I woke up feeling cleansed.  I really feel that I am a new person.  I feel that my body is purified from head to toe.  Kids still tease me, but I think this is for the best.  I am not even skeptical about this no more because I feel much better mentally and physically.  I like the food we cook.  We have gotten better at cooking it.  I hope no one is cheating.

5/17 This morning I woke up just feeling like I can run a mile.  I was just ready to go through the day.  Today in class it’s like we had a test.  I felt like everything that I study was memorized in my head.  I think that this research has something to do with this, because I never could of remembered like that in the past.

5/18 Today I aroused this morning feeling spectacular.  I am noticing that I now have unlimited energy.  I think I can give people loans on energy.  I don’t get tired no more in football practice.  When its time to go to sleep I go straight to sleep with no problems.  I really like this experiment.  I love the way I feel ever since I got on this diet.

5/19 This nineteenth day of May was a special day.  We had a running competition in football and I won.  I think this new diet played a special part in this contest.  I feel exuberant.  I am considering making this diet not just an experiment but making it a commitment.  I really love the way this diet makes me feel.

5/20 Today I felt really good.  I just was thinking.  At the beginning I was skeptical about this experiment.  Now I want to make this diet a habit.  Also, today I noticed that my body has completely adjusted to this diet.  I’m not going to even lie.  I don’t crave any meat no more.  At the beginning I thought it was going to be impossible for me to complete this diet successfully but now I know if you set your mind to something, you achieve it.

5/21 This morning I woke up feeling exuberant!  I really love this diet.  I am so happy that I have chose this right decision to be participating in this research.  I now have so much energy, I really can’t explain.  I really just want to go donate some of this energy to the people here who is always weary.

5/22 Today I feel like I’m full of strength.  I feel like Hercules.  Last night I did push-ups, and it’s like I woke up feeling the affect.  I now feel like my body is just 100% purified blood and organs.  I never knew such a diet like this can make a tremendous effect like this.  I always thought vegetables was nasty.  You just have to know how to cook them.

5/25 This morning I aroused up feeling like I was full of just stamina.  I wish I could incite the whole world about this very spectacular experience.  I feel now when I run, I move very swift now.  Ever since I have been participating in this diet, I can just feel my brain thinking better.  I feel myself just doing much better on the field and court ever since I started this diet.

5/27 Today I got my daily report.  I have noticed that I have went up in my grades tremendously.  I use to have all C’s now I have only A’s and B’s.  I think this diet played a big part in my thinking habits.  I think well and clear now.  What evers on my mind, I state it now.

5/28 Today I felt excellent.  I woke up in the middle of the night and did exercise.  It’s like I have energy at all times of the day.  It’s like in the morning, and evening and night.  I always have energy.  I think personally that I can run all day and night.  I advise everyone in the world to go on this diet or at least try it.

5/29 This morning I woke up feeling invincible.  I went to school full of nothing but energy.  I also had a test today.  It’s like I remembered everything that I studied in the previous night.  I wish I would of started this diet earlier in my life.  This diet makes me feel great.

5/31 Today I had a big football game.  It’s like I felt like a whole new man on that field.  When people was tired, I still had energy.  Today I used the restroom about four times. My inside was completely cleansed. I know we are only going to do this for one month.  I am considering doing this for a long-term life span.

6/1 Today I woke up feeling happy.  Today I also saw the football game on tape.  I observed that I did an excellent job.  I was running all over the field like I was a run-away dog.  I never ran out of energy.  You can tell people was tired but you also can tell I had unlimited energy.

6/2 Today I woke up quick and in a hurry.  I couldn’t wait to eat our vegetarian breakfast today.  I am full of energy like always.  Today in school I played a memory game on the computer.  I got the highest score I ever achieved.  Usually, I get a 120.  Today I got a 260.  I think this is one of the major effects of this diet.

6/3 This morning when I woke up, I was craving some salad.  I don’t know why.  I think it’s because my body is use to eating vegetables now.  I don’t even think about meats anymore.  I really like how my body has adjusted to this diet so quickly.  My body is like a big battery, I keep energy stored now.

6/4 Today when I woke up this morning, I actually was mad.  Because I knew the experiment was almost officially over.  I really love how now I have unlimited energy.  I can just go right to sleep when it’s time to go to sleep.  I wake up with a large sum of energy.  I just like this diet overall.

6/5 The experiment is officially over.  But not for me.  I have made my mind up to try my hardest to stay a vegan vegetarian, if I can’t, I know that I can be a regular vegetarian.  I still feel that my organs in my body is 100% cleansed, thanks to this experiment.

Overall, this experiment was fun and it was a great learning experience for me.  I thank Dr. Demas for all the work and effort she put in this experiment.  If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be feeling this healthy.  I am considering becoming a vegan vegetarian in the future.  I loved this experience.  I loved how this experiment made me feel overall.  I feel like I am a whole new person.  I also feel that I am purified and cleansed from head to toe.  I am comprehending on a higher level now in school thanks to this experiment.

Summary From a Different Student

As I started progressing in this diet, I learned a lot.  The first thing was how to cook, what not to do, what not to eat.  I mean that certain foods like cow, chicken and all these other foods carry lots of fat, hormones, chemicals that they feed them.  I learned how to make delicious shakes.  As I would come every day, I would learn more, I would observe things and me.  I was eating things that I never thought of even eating while I was on this diet.  I realized many changes education wise.  My grades have sky-rocketed big, I have felt way better towards myself.  I would wake up with a natural high every morning.  I would think positive, always have a positive mind frame.  I would no longer have a craving towards meat, chicken.  I just wanted to eat vegetarian food, especially I fell in love with fruits.  I would love to make fruit cake with organic crust.  I feel that this diet has effect on my life.  It also has shown me my talent. I never knew I can cook so good.  So, I am not going to go out back in society and do what I did to come to Bay Point, no.  I am going to use my talent and take it to another level.

Summary From a Different Student
How did I like it?  Well you know I had a fun time with the diet.  It had me thinking faster and wiser.  It was like I was just born.  At first I didn’t want to do it but I had to and it turned out good.  I was like man, I’m not going to give up my meat for this stupid junk, and I find out this was like something I never experienced before.  It was amazing.  And at the same time I was like thinking back and when I was eating meats I was falling asleep and getting F’s, and as soon as my body got use to the veggie diet, I was fully energized and not [only] had time to do all my work but did all my work plus more.  When I realized that I was like work, I have to keep doing this cause it was a great idea for sports and it kept me up and ready to go on to the next step of my life. I couldn’t believe that I did that, but I did so I was really proud of myself.  It had me on another level.  I was a happier person, but on the meat I was always mean and lazy.  So it helped me turn my life around and stop eating meats. That is the experience I had with the diet…if you get to know this program, you will love it, go ahead try it and see what’s your outcome.  And it also showed me how to cook all types of good veggie foods.

Summary From a Different Student
At first, I didn’t think that I would actually achieve the goal of being a vegan vegetarian, but after a couple of days I adjusted to the lifestyle and eating habits.  Besides exercising and eating healthy, we got to actually decide and make foods that we liked making [them] from scratch, like vegetarian meatloaf, tofu eggs, soy cheese toast, wheat pancakes, etc. Since I have been living like this I feel that my life is turning towards a brighter future.  I’ve had no problems waking up in the morning.  In school, my GPA went from a 2.4 to a 3.3.  overall, I just feel that the diet has helped me in many ways and is going to keep on helping me during my stay at Bay Point schools.

Summary From a Different Student
While I was on the vegan diet it was something I never experienced before in my lifetime.  I never believed that I would stay committed to this diet.  My first instance was I have to have my junk food and meats.  I felt more energetic and the strength that I had was incredible.  And also, to know within myself that I could make it through.  I never did break the diet, but within myself when I first started, I wanted to but if I did break the diet I would not be a living testimony.  But within myself I had second thoughts to go with the program and see what I will learn.  When I graduated, I was very happy and I thought to myself this is my future.  When I was growing up, I told myself I could never work in a kitchen and I’m not going to work in a kitchen.  Why?  because I will eat all the food.  But come to find out I didn’t eat all the food.  I was very happy to see my mother eat what I ate.  If my mother ate the food with no problem, imagine what or how the real vegetarian will take it. I am continuing this diet to make myself a better person in life.  I try to tell my peers that meats will bring you down, but the veggies will keep you hype.

Summary From a Different Student
How did I like this diet?  At first, I didn’t like this vegan at all because I couldn’t believe I was giving up meat and dairy products.  I thought to myself how could I only eat vegetables?   As we excelled in the program, I began to like eating vegetables and drinking soy milk.  I even invented recipes with this vegetarian diet.  I really like this diet because it helped me perform better in school.  My GPA went from a 2.0 to a 3.65.  It also helped me perform on the wrestling matches better than ever.  This diet was extremely better than I thought it would be.  I liked this diet so much that I’m going to introduce my grandmother to this diet because she has sugar [diabetes].  It would help her perform better so that she can have more energy and most of all be healthy as she could be in her lifetime.

Summary From a Different Student
My experience in culinary arts was very inspiring in my life.  I felt that my lifestyle was very different when I became a vegan vegetarian.  First, I was against it because I never thought I could take the fact that I was to stay away from meats or any animal products for a month, but when I started the diet I learned how to cook foods and how to season them to make them taste good.  So, I had an advantage because everything I was to eat I could make it the way I wanted while I was on this diet.  I was more energetic, and my school grades changed dramatically.  I went from a 2.3 to a 3.66 which I think is a good change.

North Campus

Culinary arts students and teacher, Bay Point School for Boys, North Campus

5/19 Today I woke up with more energy and felt good about the day.  I worked all day long in the cafeteria cleaning and stocking things and I didn’t get as tired as I felt I would. When I finished cleaning the cafeteria I went out and played basketball and still felt a lot of strength in my body.  In a way I don’t believe this because it doesn’t seem that food could do so much good for the way I think, feel, and act.  This was the first day in Bay Point since I haven’t felt tired for the whole day.  I think I feel this way because from drinking all of the water I am running all of the red meat and unhealthy foods through my body and cleaning it out.

5/20 I am communicating well with other people around the campus and getting along very good with my counselor as well.  It seems like it takes a lot more to get me angry now than it did a few days ago.

5/22 Today I woke up with a sinus cold but worse.  By the time I ate breakfast and lunch and drank a lot of water I felt the cold start to go away.  Now I feel much better and feel energy in my body again.  My sinuses were very clogged, and I was gonna take some medicine but I decided to just get some food and water in me and see how that works out.  The water seemed to clear out my sinuses and give me back strength in my body as well as the fruit and vegetables helping out as well.

5/23 My skin is starting to clear up so much because I am not eating any kinds of food with grease or fat.  I am also starting to feel a little more sure of myself and completing my daily goals that I make for myself.  It almost feels like as each day goes by on this diet my confidence gets stronger and stronger.

5/24 It feels very good to be able to get along with everyone and not get upset over little things that happen around here.  Physically I am also feeling very good and energetic.  I lifted my max weight 3 times while bench pressing which is very good.

5/25 I am feeling better and better as days go on.  I feel like I have more confidence in myself to complete small daily goals that I have.  I as well feel like I am making more mature decisions for myself.  When I say “mature decisions” I mean that I think about what I am gonna do and I don’t just jump right into it and make a decision I would regret.  I can physically feel my body working better as well.  When I was running laps today at P.E. I didn’t get too tired, and I could easily lift more weights as well.

5/26 Today I felt good about the day as soon as I woke up.  I was keeping a positive mindset and things that usually would get me angry I just laughed at.  I was expressing my feelings more easily as well during GFI which is something that I usually have trouble doing.  Expressing the way I feel also helps me communicate.  I noticed because when I have problems with someone, I tell them in a sincere way so we can work on the problems.

5/27 It seems this diet is also making my mind feel like when I feel bad, I should just tell myself not to feel that way cause I have all healthy things in my body, energy, and I get along with others better as well.  I feel I am having a lot more endurance when it comes to active sports or even standing up for a long time.  It feels good to have so much energy and be able to run more than others and still have breath and energy left.

5/31 I feel very good today.  I realize the diet is ending soon and I have chose to continue with the diet cause it helps me out going through each day feeling better about myself.  I also want to try and talk others into doing this diet because not only does it do a lot for the body and mind, but it tastes good too.  This makes me feel real good about myself that I am able to make a decision about bettering my life and making my body even more healthy.

6/1 Today was a good day for me.  I was thankful that my graduation for this study is this week, and I will be able to tell other people how food can make an effect on the mind as well as the body.  I’m just keeping my focus on making a goal to stay with this diet.  I will be completing my goal to stay on this diet for sure cause I enjoy it and I have learned a lot of how to cook my own food and about health as well.

Well, what motivated me to be in this diet was that I was weighing 245 so I decided to lose a little weight because I don’t want to be overweight.  I really expected this diet to be healthy for my body and to make my body in good shape and to make me feel energized.  After three days the results that I expected to happen works like not sleepy, full of energy, healthy body, and loss of weight.  Some of my goals that I planned to work with really work.   The food that I eat digests so quick and I’m really proud of myself for not cheating on the diet.  This was something that I wanted for myself.  I would continue on with this because it is really appreciation for myself and hope that some of my family join this too.

5/18 I drunk a cup of water.  My body was really feeling good.  I felt my body was clean and that I would of run like 20 laps.  I really enjoy this group that is dealing with this diet because I really want to lose weight.  Before I joined this diet I could not run very well because of my weight.  I couldn’t dream right.  I felt like I had to use the restroom every 2 minutes, but now I feel just fine.

5/19 Today I woke up with more energy and felt good about the day.  I went out and played basketball and still I felt a lot of strength in y body. I also felt that my vision was getting worse, but after eating carrots, I felt my vision was just getting right, but it was not that night.  I didn’t never like eating carrots but after joining the diet I was a carrot lover.  Well, socially I act differently because I got my status and I feel good because my act toward my fellow students.  And staff told me that I was doing a good job.

5/21 Today I felt good.  My body wasn’t sore cause sometimes when I eat unhealthy food, I feel tired and my body fills with pain, but today when I got up I was feeling like a brand new me.  I really enjoy it and I think I am going to continue with this.  I also ran 6 laps with my fellow students around the field then we did some exercise.  We was full of energy.  I felt real good that I was healthy and that I could lift more now.  I don’t weigh as much as I did.  I got into a little problem with a student, but I didn’t let it get to me because I felt like I didn’t want to get in trouble.  I was feeling good cause we ate something good for dinner.

5/22 Today I woke up with a new sense of humor.  I felt like I had enough energy to do exercise.  I really felt great.  I feel like I’m losing weight and I really feel good about losing weight.  I also weighed myself and lost 5 pounds.  I was proud of myself because I thought I couldn’t do it but I did, and I am going to continue with this cause my body never felt this good before so I might just be a vegetarian.  For dinner we had some tortilla.  It was very good.  I have never tasted this before, and it was good to taste something that I thought was not good so that is something else that I could put on my list to eat when I get out of here.

5/25 Today we lifted weights with full energy.  I lifted lots of weight and I really felt proud about that.  Before I was really fat but now I lost a little weight.  I also did some exercise in my room cause I felt like I couldn’t stop lifting weights so I went and did sets of pushups and situps.  This is a good idea cause a lot of us was meat eaters, so we slowed that down and now we are veggie eaters.

5/25 For dinner we had some brown rice tofu.  Since I started the veggie group eating veggie food, I felt like I’m full but my stomach ain’t getting any bigger.  I will feel good about that cause I’m not eating fat food.

5/26 These veggie foods really do work because I’m losing weight and eating big plates of food and not getting any bigger.  Some of my clothes that I couldn’t fit now I wear them.  Later on, I got a phone call and I was speaking to my father and I told him that I’m in a group that is dealing with vegetarian and I was telling things that he could eat to lose weight cause he really wants to lose weight.  He weighs 188 and still wants to lose weight.

5/27 Today I was cooking veggie burgers with potatoes.  It was so good that I even wanted seconds.  We came up with a recipe and what we did – we smashed veggie burgers with tofu.  It was good and I really enjoyed it.  Also, today a few of my fellow students wanted to join us because seeing the reaction and how we act towards them and staff so we had three students that join us cause they wanted to be healthy.

5/29 Today I cooked again.  I was proud of myself because I’m learning and learning how to cook.  I knew how to cook but I’m learning how to cook veggie food without putting oil in it.  I’m just happy that I’m a vegetarian.  For dinner I ate only fruits cause I was full like I was not hungry.  My skin may clear up and this is the main thing I am looking forward to a few days to go by to see if this diet really does work.

3/30 Today I was in GGI and was wide awake, full of energy expressing how good I feel to be in that veggie group.  I hope people just join the group to be healthy.  In Bay Point we suppose to be fat and that was where I was headed so until we decided to join the diet.  My girlfriend always asks if I am fat and I said no so really, I was lying cause I weighed 215 but now I feel good about myself.  I am also starting to feel a little more sure of myself and completing my daily goals.  I didn’t really eat that much today cause I was not that hungry. Today is a good day.  We ate tofu with smash brown beans with some brown rice.  We made tortilla sandwich with energy shake.  It was a pretty good day for us.  Everyone looked awake.  I feel very good to be able to get along with everyone because I feel like no one is out to get me or get me upset over petty things that I usually put a mental block to.  I would never feel like I did a mistake because I really am helping myself to be healthy and to not have my blood clogged up.

6/1 Today we cooked a wonderful meal, we ate rice, corn, and tofu.  I ate 2 plates because it was so delicious.  I drank 3 glasses of water, and I was full.  Since I became a veggie member the food began to adjust fast and my urine was clean, it wasn’t yellow like it was when I was eating fat food.

I would like to take a moment and share with you an experience that has given me an insight as to how we should eat properly, through a balanced diet to ensure a healthier life.  During the second week of February, I enrolled into the Culinary Arts Program at Bay Point Schools, North Campus.  Within this course, I’ve gained the knowledge of meal preparation and the importance of herb usage.  By the middle of the semester, I also obtained a better insight of Culinary Arts in general.  On May 18, the entire Culinary Arts participants were presented with the challenge of beginning a vegetarian diet.  When presented with this challenge, the entire class became very enthused.  Through the usage of organic foods, we learned that this diet would supply our bodies with natural nutrients.  Within three weeks of the diet, I’ve managed to lose 10 lbs. as well.  This experience has given me a better outlook on maintaining a balanced diet and the importance of eating healthier.  I would first like to express my gratitude towards Mr. Abraham Ruiz, the head Chef of Bay Point Schools, North Campus, for his creativity and dedication towards the students associated with the Culinary Arts program. I also profoundly express my gratitude towards Dr. Demas for her influence and guidance in proper nutritional eating habits.  My closing statement is directed towards those who promote nutritional health:  Thank-You, and may the divine powers that control the universe continue to bless you for your inspirational, educational, and nutritional influences.  Thank-You

5/18 I entered the Culinary Arts class and they informed me about a diet.  I expected to become a little smarter and wiser and the results happened just as planned.  I would not continue because I love meat, and I love it to the T.  I would try but I don’t know how good my experience would be on the person I tried to put up to join.

5/25 My mind was clear of all thought of going to sleep in class.  I kept my head in the books and tried to keep focus.   All day my mind stayed clear.  Students tried to get to me, but I stop and think, about how I was going to ignore them to keep myself out of problems.  They got mad when I ignored them all day and to me, I think it’s the food.

5/27 Sunday was the best day I had since I’ve been on this diet.  Did a lot of things all day working in the cafeteria.  My mind was free from all the negativity, free from all bad thoughts and anything having negativity vibes.

5/29 My whole culinary class went to the organic farm.  Seen a lot and felt revved all day.  Told them a lot of questions and answers.  When I was eating the healthy food I stuff myself and still didn’t feel bulgy.

I went from weighing 179 lbs to 170 lbs.  I’ve been attending Bay Point Schools since February 15, 2001 and came here weighing 164 lbs, tight stomach and came feeling alright with my weight.  I was really motivated when I was weighing 179 lbs.  I had a chance to lose it eating a lot of nutritional foods.  I also felt good after eating because the other normal food leaves me bloated and with a bad taste in my mouth.  The new food I started eating is all opposite and I’m with it 150%.  There’s no problem with this diet yet and not ever in my experience.  I think me losing weight and feeling better in my old clothing is great.  I feel very strongly in continuing this diet because I’ve been eating this fattening food all my life and I was blind, now I can see.  The only thing I have a problem with is the tofu because it just is tasteless and breaks up in my mouth too quickly like some hard soup.  But after that the diet was great.  I am surely going to persuade my family and friends to try it.  This diet is a special change in my life, and it will be good for my family and friends to join me.  After all I think this diet is fantastic and I’m also thankful for Dr. Demas letting me participate in the successful study.

5/18 The diet really started at lunch time, but the effects were good.  I felt good during the rest of the day because the normal food usually leaves me bloated and this food didn’t.  The dinner was also great, the food digested quicker than expected and I fell asleep fast.  I feel good I started this diet.

5/19 This morning I feel energized and ready for another day.  I did a couple of push-ups and I was alert.  This afternoon I worked out a lot and didn’t get tired as much as I did before.  My day went by great, and I think I lost some weight because I feel lighter.

5/20 I see changes in my urine, and I don’t pass as much gas as I use to when I drunk the normal milk.  Last night I fell asleep real quick.  My friends at Bay Point make fun of me and try to tease me with their brownies but I tell them it’s not doing anything good for your stomach.  I prayed before I went to sleep, and I asked the Lord to help me lose some weight and go to sleep quick.

5/21 After eating this food I don’t feel the same as when I use to burp a lot and have a gassy stomach.  I felt good in PE.  I played a lot more than usual because I had more strength than usual.  My effort in the activities were more than usual because I was up to doing it.  School time was also good.  I paid a lot of attention and made a good grade.  When we line up to use the rest room, we have to wait and stand there till our turn comes up.  But overall, I had a great day.

5/26 I felt light this morning, more like I lost some weight.  I kind of feel happy but my stomach is kind of still sticking out as if I didn’t lose weight.  But I still feel good.  My points were getting higher every day since I was eating this fatty food in my beginning days here.  But they’ve gotten lower since I have been on this diet.  I told my mom when I received a phone call and told her I was happy about the pounds I lost.  I also told her I was planning on carrying on when I leave and also have her join it.  Today went great in PE.  I ran a lot of laps (11) because I felt lighter overall.

My teacher was happy about me taking the diet seriously because some didn’t want to get in the study but the ones that did take it seriously and get something good out of it individually.  I feel good about what I did in this diet because I went through with it.

5/29 Today I feel good.  I lost some weight, and I am proud of myself because I’m succeeding in the goal I set for myself.  The food is starting to taste better to me because I see I’m getting something out of it and I put in my mind towards eating the food even more.  I went to school feeling good today and my fellow diet students also feel good because they lost a lot of pounds also.  I went to sleep feeling good and quick.  It’s like the people were teasing me about the diet want to join us now.  So I guess this diet is good if people what to join it.

5/27 I feel good, energized, ready for today.  I went to PE and ran my laps with not that much problems at all.  I guess it’s because I drink a lot of water.  Today I feel good at dinnertime but I didn’t eat that much because I ate a lot at lunchtime.  When I use the rest room I urinated an unusual color and I felt good because that meant my system was getting clean.  I feel good today in my math class because I was focused and received a good grade.  The lunch was great, and the dinner was very delicious.  In study hall I worked hard and learned a lot more about sentence structure.

5/31 Today I feel good I took a shower and came out energized for a new day.  My goal for today is to lose some more weight and keep it off.  The food is great through the whole day, from morning to night.   I went to sleep quick and was the best sleep I had because I felt like I slept for a long time because when I wok up I was very energized.  I prayed and asked for a great day tomorrow and to eat good food.

I am the youngest of the Culinary Arts, a 15 yr old student and been attending Bay Point Schools for 2 months and 4 weeks.  The thing that motivated me to get involved in this diet was this would be my first time and experience in something that great and maybe it will help me do a lot of things like give me energy and clear bumps.  So, the expectations I had received from the diet was, it cleared my bumps like I wanted, gave me much energy to do a lot of things in physical education without loosing my breath real quick.  I expected it to help my bowel movement to go through real good.  But everything that I expected to accomplish and I feel real good about it.  Well, the question is will I continue?  I will not continue but I will just have to watch what I eat and stay healthy.  The food we eat is good, but I’m not used to eating Tofu but all the grease and butter and junk food I have to slow down on.  But for anything I would try to get my family and friends involved, because I don’t want none of them to be unhealthy even though they eat good, but I know they can eat better.  I believe that this diet will help anybody that wants to be helped.  People think diets are not for everybody, but I think there’re for anybody, me personally.  I think anybody need to go on a diet should take that risk so they can save their health.

5/18 Today is my first day on the diet.   I always wanted to try it and today is the day.  I never tasted the food we ate today but it was alright.  It’s not something I would eat everyday, but I’ll eat it to get very healthy.  I went to physical education today and it made me feel real motivated to do a lot of thing.  I ran 6 laps without stopping and lifted 3 pounds more doing weights.

5/19 Well as for my second day on my first nutrition diet it felt good for me. I had to try and experience the diet, for once in my life so the food is great.  I’m going to stick to it.  This is the best thing that probably happened to me.  I don’t feel tired like I always feel.  I believe this diet will help me stay focused in school and help me keep my grades up.

5/20 My third day on the diet and I feel comfortable about it already.  It made me lose 3 pounds and keeps me more active and awaken.  I don’t really have nothing to say about this diet because I have the same effect every day.  But my mommy said that I got bigger and I think better about positive things every day.  And now I’m starting to have a better relationship with my fellow peers. I had no problems with my fellow peer lately and doing a good job around the campus.

5/21 I feel that the diet I’m on is helping me out real good.  The effects of the diet helping me stay awake in the morning and gives me much energy to do lots of things.  Before I didn’t like the sound of it but when I tried it there was foods I never seen or ate before but the food taste real good.  I kept thinking if I keep eating all this greasy food and junk food, I will become real big & unhealthy and might even die of a heart attack but I don’t want that to happen because I want to live a healthy life.

5/22 Today I’m trying to set a goal to lose at least 2 to 3 pounds.  And I almost succeed that goal by losing 1 pound and making myself feel real good and motivated.  So I finished school and went to physical education and felt excellent about the way I went through the day without no problems.  I got along with my fellow students and staff.  I helped move around in townhouse and was lifting up everything and it wasn’t even heavy.

5/23 Today I don’t know what gave me the feeling to quit the diet but after I ate the food we ate I felt good about myself.  I didn’t want to do nothing but until we went to physical education and did calisthenics and I stretch my body parts and it made me feel real relaxed and comfortable about myself.  My fellow students said I’m live because I don’t sleep everywhere I go.  I use to fall asleep but now I am wide awake and ready for another day

5/24 Today I feel like a brand new man.  I woke up praying to god for a healthy body.  And I do feel like doing 5 laps straight.  So I went out to PE & lifted 7 pounds more.  The food is good for you – it helps increase your memory.  And it helps you stay focused at all times.  It helps you think better about positive thoughts.

5/25 Today I ate a lot of food, and it makes me feel good, the fact that it takes me a while to get full and when I do its easy to do a number two without having to strain it out.  I felt very light when I got off the toilet.  I ran a lot in physical education and lost at least 4 pounds. I got my grade up in school.  I came from a C GPA to a B GPA.  Ever since I’ve started eating the diet it made me feel good – it took away my headaches I always have and took away my cold.

5/26 Today I lost 4 pounds.  I was 175 now I’m 171 and feel very healthy.  It went to physical education today and ran.

5/31 Today I feel good about eating tofu food for the 2 ½ weeks.  It makes me feel real good about myself.  It took away some of my bumps and giving me more energy day after day.

6/1 Yesterday I felt real good.  I think that diet really helping me out so I think that I will try staying on that diet a little longer to make myself stay healt

I have been at Bay Point since September of 2000. When I heard about the diet, I was inspired to try it out.  I wanted to accomplish a personal goal to shed a few pounds.  In the experience of being on the diet motivated me to eat healthy, and nutritional foods.  I would like to continue the diet but will continue to eat regular food.  It has encouraged me to eat a lot more healthy foods and to keep my body in tiptop shape, inside and out.  The experiences I had on this diet has helped me to understand the way a person should treat their body right. I am considering to continue the vegetarian diet but not permanently, though I will watch what I eat from here on out.  I would encourage a lot of family and friends to try the diet out so they can learn how to take care of their body and to eat right too.  Though eating right has helped me to keep myself from getting sick and having tons of energy to keep me going through the day.  That is why I would strongly approve of everyone trying the vegetarian diet to encourage self-improvement.

5/18 Physically I still feel the same and I really don’t think that by not eating [meat] is going to keep me strong.  Mentally my I mind is not clear and I think that this will help so I’m going to stick with it.  Socially its not easy to talk to people so that’s why I hope that this diet will help me a lot.

5/19 Physically I don’t think it will change me, but I want to try.  Mentally I feel like that if you eat something its not going to change the way you think.  Socially I’m going to social[ize] the way I’ve always have been.

5/20 Physically I feel a little better than I felt at first because I am starting to run a lot.  Mentally I feel like I still think the same way and its not going to change that.  Socially still talk the same way and act the same too.

5/21 Physically I feel real good today & I was lifting weights and I had a good time.  Mentally I guess everyone has their own opinion but it’s starting to let me think clear.  Socially words that I did not understand before are becoming clear to me.

5/22 Physically I’m not sleepy like I use to be after I leave school, so I know that it is making a big change.   Mentally my mind is clear, but I still have problems, so I am still working on it.  Socially my mind is clear, so it makes it easier for me to talk and learn more.

5/23 Physically I feel more active, and I can do just about everything and PE.  Mentally I can think clear so that say I can keep up in class.  Socially my reading and language has gone up a lot and my GPA too.

5/24 Mentally today’s food let me think clear and I did not have any problem reading.  Physically I was able to run longer, and I was able to lift more weight than before.  Socially by thinking clear I was able to talk and listen.

5/26 Physically I had a headache this morning but after I eat and did exercise, I felt better.  Mentally my GPA has gone up and I can do a lot more because I think with a clear mind.  Socially I still talk social with everyone.

5/27 Physically I feel like I can lift over 400 pounds.  I feel great and I am going to keep it up.  Mentally my mind is so clear I might keep up with this diet.  Socially I don’t think that your speech has anything to do with food.

5/28 Physically I don’t think that the diet help me to shape my body but I’ll keep with it.  Mentally my mind is clear so that lets me get through a day with no problems.  Socially my mind is the same way but I like the way it makes me feel.

5/29 Physically your physical is important. That you keep up good diet. so the diet will help me with a lot of things. Mentally my mind is so clear I know what I want to do with my life and my mind is made up.

5/30 Physically my physical shape is like when I was on the wrestling team. I feel like I can run about 20 miles.  Mentally my mind is so clear that I will be able to make big decisions in my life.  Socially I like to talk to my fellow students and the way I use words.

6/1 Physically my body is like a man that can’t be stopped because I feel like I can do just about anything. Mentally my mind is like a scientist make a new invention for the future. I like the way I think now so food can make you think different so I think I am going to stay with it.  Socially the way I talk is improving every day so I just got to stay focused.


Miami Children’s Hospital volunteered to do blood work on the students who had agreed to participate in the medical part of the study pre and post intervention and make the results available to the researchers. Medical results were interpreted by Dr. Harvey Zarren, cardiologist, in Lynn, MA:

“Four students of the eleven who had pre and post study blood levels had starting total cholesterol levels above 150mgm/dl. All of these students had decreased levels of total cholesterol at the end of the three-week study period. The decreases varied from 3 to 23%, average 15%. Traditional preventive cardiology wisdom teaches that a 1% drop in total cholesterol results in a 2% drop in risk of future heart attacks. Thus a 15% drop in total cholesterol, if sustained, might decrease the risk of future heart disease by 30%, a significant reduction in risk.

Homocysteine levels dropped an average of 28%, but levels were not measured fasting, so the results are interesting but not clearly significant. Elevated homocysteine is implicated in arterial and venous disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Animal source proteins contain three (3) times the amount of methionine compared to plant source protein. Methionine is the precursor of homocysteine. It is reasonable that changing from an animal source food diet to a plant-based diet will lower homocysteine levels and likely lower the risk of vascular disease and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.

Seven of the eleven patients who had blood work done had weight loss ranging from one to two kilograms over the month-long study. The average weight loss was 1.4 kilograms or three pounds. Obesity is epidemic in young people in the United States. A dietary change that can result in weight loss will help to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease and can likely cut the risk of common cancers such as colon cancer.

The Bay Point Study is very interesting for its behavioral and subjective results. The small amount of data, while not statistically significant is also very interesting. The idea that such a short-term study can decrease weight, decrease elevated cholesterol levels quite significantly and might also decrease homocysteine levels need further research.

Among the benefits of changing to plant-based diets is the potential improvement in vascular function affecting skeletal muscles and the blood supply to organs such as the heart. Arteries which supply oxygenated blood and fuel to muscles in the body are constantly opening and closing to alter blood supply to various parts of the body. The arteries open or enlarge under the influence of a substance called endothelial derived relaxing factor which signals the muscle cuff around arteries to relax, allowing the arteries to open or dilate. Studies have shown that ingestion of a fatty meal can decrease or stop production of relaxing factor for up to six hours in normal subjects. Such people have decreased muscle blood supply during that time. Plant based diets are intrinsically lower in fat than are animal-based diets and would be expected to affect blood vessel function less adversely.”


Data from the student’s journals along, behavior records, and blood work were examined pre and post, and they demonstrated remarkable results. This information was available because the students were at the school for behavioral reasons.

Student Self-Reported Results

  • More energy
  • Not fighting with peers or staff – calmness
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Improved concentration and listening skills
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Feel better physically
  • Cleared up digestive issues
  • Weight loss
  • “Cleansing” – no longer constipated
  • Improved grades
  • Improved sports performance
  • Clearer skin
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved communication skills
  • Want to share information about this diet with others

The journals indicate that that the students were making connections about how the plant-based foods were affecting their energy level, stamina, thinking and general health. Initially they were skeptical that they might feel differently once they were eating whole foods and eliminating animal products from their diets. But when they experienced physical and mental benefits, they knew it was because of the foods they were eating since nothing else had changed. The students who were not part of the study did not change and were able to witness the improvements in the study group. Because of this some members of the non-study group asked to join the study, but we needed to stick with the original plan.  The non-study group were able to witness the results after initially teasing the study group.

One of the most striking results was to share with others such as peers, family, and friends. On occasion the study group would invite me for dinner to show off their invented new recipes which were delicious. They would pick wildflowers for the table, and we would engage in intellectual conversations about food issues. They had developed intense curiosity about food and nutrition and had often profound insights about how healthy food was affecting them in a positive way.

A number of students received full scholarships at Johnson & Wales, a college that included a culinary arts program after the staff and guest visitors attended a meal created by students with original recipes and heard testimonials from students.

On the last day of the study, students prepared a feast and we invited guests from the community. Students gave testimonials of their experiences and staff from Johnson & Wales culinary school were so impressed that they arranged to give full scholarships to some the Bay Point students.

One of the students, L.P. was invited to give a guest lecture in Professor T. Colin Campbell’s vegetarian nutrition class at Cornell University. He wore his chef whites and gave a wonderful lecture to about 75 Cornell students. He explained how he grew up on the streets of Miami and that he never would have believed that food had anything to do with his anger until he participated in this study. LP, a recipient of a full scholarship, studying to become a chef at Johnson & Wales, gave a guest lecture at T. Colin Campbell’s nutrition class at Cornell University about how good nutrition has changed his life and that of his family

We toured the Cornell hotel school where he gave another lecture to the culinary arts students and staff. Luis had a full scholarship to Johnson and Wales and his entire family moved to north Miami so they could support him in his studies. Dr. Campbell had visited the Bay Point School and arranged for the guest lecture.

The following is from his journal:

“When I started I thought they were just going to teach us how to cook. But to my surprise, I learned how a kitchen runs, how to maintain a kitchen, how to prepare food for a large number of people, and most importantly, they taught us nutrient value. We had field trips to an organic farm where they showed us how they grow their crops completely natural. No fertilizers, no pesticides, not even pipe water. They watered their plants with underground water, where they extracted with a pump under the ground. They used dead leaves to stop weeds from growing and at the same time as a fertilizer. Plus we had a field trip to Henry Lee stock and warehouse company and to Wild Oats, a store where they sell only all natural and organic foods. After this experience I did not realize how important eating healthy is. I learned how pesticides and fertilizers can effect your body in harmful ways as in cancer and other illnesses after a period of time. And I also learned that the animals we eat as in chicken, cow, pork, and so on, are raised in a factory and are fed steroids until they are slaughtered to eat. It made me really want to stop eating meat. Then they told me about how there is a veggie substitute of almost every meat product including dairy products. So they introduced me to a vegetarian diet and asked me to stick to it for a month. Now I come from a different type of culture and environment so I automatically thought to myself I might not stick to this diet but when I found out the benefits as in health and energy wise, I decided to try something new. While I was on the diet it took me a couple of days to adjust to the food but I already felt different like I had more energy and felt more energetic. It was like I didn’t even need meat anymore. The soy milk was just as good as regular milk. It even tasted better with the breakfast we ate. I enjoyed the experience and felt kind of bad when the diet was over. I have decided to keep on being a vegetarian when I leave Bay Point and might even be a nutritional chef if I get a chance to. I am very grateful for this experience — it made me realize how important my health is. Now with all this experience I will take it with me at the age of 18 and make a career from it.”

Using the Carrot Instead of the Stick
Can Vegetables Cure Crime?
Graphic by Mary Wood



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